Thursday, May 24, 2001

Lawyer has faced high-profile cases

He was adviser for Monica, mom

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The lawyer handling the feds for Cincinnati helped bring down a crack-smoking Washington mayor and advised Monica Lewinsky.

        William R. “Billy” Martin has prosecuted organized-crime bosses as a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice. In the San Francisco organized-crime office in the 1980s, he hid people in the federal witness-protection program.

        Now he'll represent Cincinnati and its police division as lawyers from his old Justice Department start investigating the Cincinnati Police Division's use of force.

[photo] Attorney William Martin with client Marcia Lewis, Monica Lewinsky's mother, after she testified to a grand jury in 1998.
(Associated Press file photo)
| ZOOM |
        The University of Cincinnati College of Law graduate is expected to arrive in Cincinnati today to sit in on police officials' interviews with two Justice Department lawyers.

        His appointment was announced Wednesday, but he slipped into City Hall on Monday. That's when an old schoolmate, Mayor Charlie Luken, also a UC law grad, spotted him.

        “I said, "Bill? What are you doing here?'” Mr. Luken said. “He looked at me and then told me what was going on.”

        Mr. Luken called his classmate “a very decent guy” who “has worked some very high-power cases. He knows Washington.”

        Here's how much Mr. Martin knows Washington:

        • He has spent half his 25-year legal career with the Justice Department. He was senior trial attorney for the government's organized crime task force in San Francisco, which included overseeing the federal witness-protection program there. He also investigated allegations of corruption within labor unions, construction problems on the Alaskan pipeline, and a top Chicago crime family.

    Name: William R. “Billy” Martin
    Born: Pittsburgh, Pa., 1949. Son of a steelworker.
    Education: B.A., Howard University, 1973; J.D., University of Cincinnati College of Law, 1976.
    Career: Assistant city attorney, Cincinnati, 1976-1978; Attorney, U.S. Attorney's office, Dayton, 1978-1980; Senior trial attorney, San Francisco Strike Force, 1980-1984; Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Washington, D.C., 1984-1990; since 1990, in private practice, currently with Dyer, Ellis & Joseph, a 50-lawyer firm in Washington, D.C. Lawyer for Monica Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, during Office of Independent Counsel Investigation of President Clinton.
    Specialties: White-collar defense; criminal litigation; sports and entertainment law; and commercial litigation.
        In 1988, he became executive assistant U.S. attorney in the Washington office — the No. 3 spot in the country's second-biggest federal prosecutor's office. He presented evidence to a grand jury against Washington Mayor Marion Barry, arrested in a 1990 FBI drug sting and eventually convicted.

        • Hired as counsel for Ms. Lewinsky's mother during the independent counsel's investigation of President Clinton, he became the closest adviser to Monica Lewinsky and her mother. Time magazine dubbed him Ms. Lewinsky's “Minister of Defense.”

        Mr. Martin didn't want to talk about the Lewinsky case Wednesday, but he said he's learned a lot from big cases like it.

        “Handling a case that involves the investigation of the president and a client who was a witness gives you the confidence in being able to handle high-profile, complex cases,” he said. “I would hope to bring that experience to Cincinnati.”

Unafraid of spotlight
        Mr. Martin has remained high-profile.

        He represented a D.C. police officer, William Hyatt, accused of mistakenly killing a fellow officer in 1998 while trying to break up a fight outside a nightclub. The officer was cleared, but the District paid the dead officer's family more than $1 million last year to settle a lawsuit.

        He represented one of three security guards at Gallaudet University, the country's preeminent college for deaf people, who was accused of killing a former student. The guard was acquitted.

        He is defending a George Washington University basketball star, Attila Cosby, against charges that he raped a 46-year-old convicted prostitute.

        Even as Mr. Martin rose in the ranks of the Justice Department and established his Washington law practice, he has maintained a connection with his Cincinnati alma mater.

        Last year's UC law graduates chose him for one of their top honors because of the way he handled the Lewinsky case. He gave the commencement address to their class last May, talking about the importance of monitoring ethics and treating people with dignity.

        At a reunion last summer for UC's black law-school graduates, Mr. Martin urged his fellow alumni to be mentors for young African-American lawyers.

       Reporters Dan Horn and Robert Anglen contributed to this report.

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